A Houston minister accused of using money borrowed to build a new church to buy a mink coat and a Mercedes Benz missed his
initial hearing in Indianapolis on Tuesday.
An attorney for Rev. Wayne Taft Harris Jr. said Harris wasn't told of the hearing, which was rescheduled for Aug. 3.
"Just a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand was doing," public defender Michael Donahoe said. He said Harris would plead not guilty at next week's hearing.
A July 7 federal indictment charging Harris with wire fraud accuses him of borrowing $482,000 in August 2005 from Third World Missions of Merritt Island, Fla., on behalf of Kingdom Builders Faith Church to build a church in Indianapolis. Third World operates Bible schools and orphanages in several countries and raises money from the interest on church construction loans.
Two days after the loan money was transferred, Harris bought a Mercedes Benz car for about $39,000 in the name of another apparent church group, Ever Increasing Kingdom Christian Center, according to the indictment. The following month, he filed papers to dissolve Kingdom Builders, it said.
In November, Harris paid $105,000 to buy a Christian bookstore in the name of yet another religious group, KingdomComm Ministry Resources Inc., the indictment says. It also accuses him of using $500 of the loan to buy a $2,000 mink coat with Versace buttons.
Harris later sent a fax to the mission group blaming an unidentified staff member for misappropriating the loan funds, the indictment says.
He posted a $25,000 bond and was released after surrendering July 16 to federal authorities in Houston.